114 Waverly Place. Credit: Brian J. Pape, AIA.

By Brian J Pape, AIA

Celeste Martin would not be pleased. But then, she was a relative newcomer to the ‘hood. Celeste had lived in her home at 114 Waverly Place, or in other nearby apartments, even before her real estate agent father Edmond Martin’s death in 1985, when she inherited eight buildings from him. She had loved sharing the hot pink palace with her artist friends, often at no rent charge. Celeste died in December of 2018 when she was 98 years old; she had been known as the eccentric “Queen” of the Village.

The Novogratz family started their restoration project in mid-2020, and expected “Novogratz Place” as they named it, to be completed by the summer of 2021. Welcome to the new world of complexities and pandemics. When the LPC was considering the fate of the pink façade color, Celeste’s glorious pink was considered too new, and just wouldn’t do any more for the Novogratz’ restoration. Thus, a more historic yellow was selected and approved, much to the surprise of neighbors.

Nine Federal-style three-story houses were constructed on Waverly Place in 1826 for Thomas Mercein, a former NYC comptroller and fire insurance company president, and #114 was one of them. All nine properties have gone through major changes. In 1920 architect William Sanger changed #114, when the entrance was given an Italian styling, an English basement stoop, Art Nouveau round-arched windows, and an earthy color scheme for owner Murray P. Bewley.

Now that the construction scaffolding is down, the saplings growing from roof gutters are gone, and the restoration is complete, the bright warm yellow shines like a sunflower. During a recent visit, the curtains were pulled back and the sparkling chandeliers glowed inside. Several young people were seated at the dining room table, diligently working at their laptops. Creative activity has returned to 114 Waverly Place.

Brian J. Pape is a citizen architect in private practice, LEED-AP “green” certified, serving on the Manhattan District 2 Community Board Landmarks Committee and Quality of Life Committee (participating solely in a personal, not an official, capacity). He is also co-chair of the American Institute of Architects NY Design for Aging Committee, a member of AIANY Historic Buildings and Housing Committees, and is a journalist specializing in architecture subjects.

Tags :

Leave a Reply